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Assignment: Nicosia

Over the winter holidays, we were given what is known in Foreign Service parlance as a "handshake" for our next post: Nicosia, Cyprus. This will be our third assignment with the Foreign Service: Washington, D.C. was first, followed by our current assignment to Jeddah, Saudia Arabia. And I should point out that after the first two assignments, folks are usually tenured and considered to be "mid-level" and that changes how one goes about getting an assignment. And, as always, my career field does things differently. But I digress.
The Flag of Cyprus
As for the symbolism of the flag, it's pretty straight forward. The flag features a map of the entirety of the island above two olive branches (a symbol of peace) on white (another symbol of peace). The olive branches signify peace between the Turks and Greeks. Fun Fact: Under Cyprus's constitution, the flag could neither include blue or red as they are the colors of the flag of Greece (blue) and the flag of Turkey (red), nor could they portray a cross (like Greece) or a crescent (like Turkey). All participants deliberately avoided use of these four elements in an attempt to make the flag "neutral".

Which is good, as Nicosia is a divided city ever since the Cyprus dispute, an ongoing issue of military invasion and continuing Turkish occupation (since 1974) of the northern third of the island, a situation described and deplored in multiple UN reports and resolutions. Although the Republic of Cyprus is recognized as the sole legitimate state, sovereign over all the island, the north is de facto under the administration of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which is guarded by Turkish Armed Forces. We'll see how that all works once we're there, but I'm expecting that there will be lots of delicious Greek and Turkish food. It would not surprise me at all if the predominant stray animals were cats on the Greek side of the border and dogs on the Turkish side.


FSCE Mid-level Assignments
Anyways, here's a little more about the "mid-level" assignment process for Foreign Service Construction Engineers. It differs from the entry-level assignments process in that you can kind of say no, since they aren't directed assignments. You can also lobby the decision-makers, who in this case are the branch chiefs. We also are more flexible on the "stretch" assignments, because there are simply more projects than people so there are always opportunities to take on the more challenging projects. Though, after my project in Jeddah, I was looking for a less challenging one.

FSCE Mid-Level Assignment Timeline
19 Sep 16: Official Summer 2017 bid season starts
25 Sep 16: I submitted my Summer 2017 bid list. Pro Tip: Don't put down anywhere you don't want to go because they will say "Well, you did bid on it."
21 Oct 16: Bids due for Summer Cycle
31 Oct 16: Bureaus may offer Handshakes to Summer Bidders
7 Nov 16: I was officially extended in Jeddah for another 5 months. Previous TED was 4 Jan 17.
22 Dec 16:Received my "pre-holiday, pre-handshake notice" from OBO. Apparently, they were filling the higher-graded overseas positions first and working their way down through the list to me.

27 Dec 16: Received my official handshake offer for Nicosia
3 Jan 17: Accepted the handshake offer, sent to assignment panel
~16 Mar 17: Formal Panel to assign me to Nicosia
21 Mar 17: TM One issued (84 days after handshake offer)
22 Mar 17: TM Two Submitted
29 Mar 17: TM Two Accepted (7 days after TM Two submitted)
12 Apr 17: TM Two Returned & Re-submitted (Rest stop flight had no onward passage under the plane for our dog)
N/A: TM Three Received (They exist online)
11 May 17: TM Four issued (51 days after TM One issued, 29 days after revised TM Two submitted)
14 May 17: HHE Pack-Out
22 May 17: Final exit visa issued
9 Jun 17: Wheels Up!

So, I guess this is technically my true "Flag Day."

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  1. So exciting! And the process is fascinating - I'll have to catch up on my Passport Stamp Collector reading!

    1. I've made it easy to do, just go to our summary of summaries page. I will be adding more links there this week.